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‘Post-pandemic, there is an increasing demand for recreational rooms at home’

Architect Piyush Gaba, an alumnus of Apeejay School, Faridabad, says his school journey was full of life lessons

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Piyush Gaba, Chief Architect, Akaar Architects, completed his schooling in 2009. Even after a decade, Gaba stays in constant touch with his teachers and classmates from his alma mater, Apeejay School, Faridabad. The school holds a very special place in his heart, so much so  that he is overwhelmed every time he recalls his days there. In an interview, Gaba shares his memories from school. Edited excerpts:

How long did you study at Apeejay School, Faridabad? In what ways do you think the school prepared you for the journey ahead?

Apeejay School was the first building block of my educational life. The journey was marvellous, with great teachings and lessons. Living nearby and passing by the school every day while going to work reminds me of the discipline that was taught and beautifully moulded in.

Tell us about your school days. Any special memories you cherish?

Thinking about those 15 years of school still gives me goosebumps. The close friends that I have to date are all from my school. There has been no occasion when we met and did not reminisce about our school days. That is how special school was to us.

The memories are endless, spanning corridors, playground, canteen, swimming pool and so much more! With my house being close to the school, I managed to always get hot food from home, not just for myself but my peers as well. This went on for four years. From the security guards to the teachers, everyone knew about this.

What inspired you to become an architect?

Our house got renovated when I was in class 7. While my father supervised it, he simultaneously encouraged me to be involved in the decision-making process. This piqued my interest and made me lean towards design and find out more about it. Gradually, I started getting involved in the construction process, and what I had started pursuing just for fun, became my passion eventually and thereafter my career.

There is another incident that I remember vividly. When I was in class 10, we once had a career selection programme where we were asked if any of us wanted to become architects. I was among the only two students who raised their hands.

Worldwide, we are talking about eco-friendly practices and sustainability. How has it impacted architecture and what is your take on it?

As of now, we are yet to achieve sustainability goals in the case of commercial architecture. The basic ingredients that are used for construction can contribute to pollution. While we have eco-friendly alternatives like ACC bricks (that can be used in place of burnt bricks), they are usually very expensive and require skilled labour, which, in turn, increases the overall cost incurred. So, it is not always commercially viable, but we are working on it. We need to spread more environmental awareness among people to ensure they are willing to switch to eco-friendly options.

Having said that, we also have pre-fabricated construction (in which building components are assembled), which involves the use of metal but no plaster or pollution-causing materials. These buildings can also be dismantled and moved from one site to another very easily.

Like everything else, the pandemic has also encouraged people to rethink and redo homes to focus on functionality and comfort at the same time. What is your take on it?

Earlier, when people built their homes, they laid more emphasis on a fancy exterior with a more or less basic interior design. But now, especially post-pandemic, people are rethinking the spaces inside the house—rather than showcasing grandeur to people, they are now focused on improving their own quality of life. People are converting their storerooms to libraries or using feature walls. There is also an increasing demand for recreational rooms at home–a place where one can destress, spend quality time with children and play games.

Lately, there has been a lot of craze for ‘smart’ buildings. What, according to you, is the future of architecture?

Architecture is not just about smart buildings, but also about how smartly and responsibly you design a building so that no harm is done to nature. Architects have to keep this in mind at every step, from the foundation to the full framework. 

To aspiring architects at Apeejay, what would your message be?

Today, architecture is among the top five disciplines in the country. There is a lot of hard work involved but that is what makes an architect more patient and prepared for future challenges in their profession. In architecture school, you are not just taught how to design and build, but the curriculum also has an overall impact on your personality and lifestyle. You learn to make better decisions.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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